Both are desperate to recruit, and Matuidi could the ideal signing for both clubs. Arsenal need a tough-tackling midfielder in the middle of the park, a sort of Claude Makalele or (more appropriately) a Patrick Viera type player. Newcastle meanwhile need to show their players and fans that they are serious about making an impact now that they are back in the Premiership, and signing young talent like Matudi is the perfect statement for Pardew and Mike Ashley to make.
Arsenal’s need is perhaps greater than Newcastle’s, but with a few admiring glances being cast at defensive midfielder Cheick Tiote, who has been an absolute rock in the middle for the Magpies this season, Ashley may be moved into putting his big fat hand, into his big fat wallet. Saint Etienne have the player on a contract until 2013, but that does contain a minimum fee release clause. There’s no word yet on what that might be, but it’s unlikely to trouble either club’s budgets.
23 year old Matudi has been impressive for St Ettienne this season, and has already made over 100 appearances for the Ligue 1 side. He recently achieved a full senior international cap, when he was called up to the France side for their Euro 2012 Qualifier against Bosnia. He’s been described as a ‘tough tackling midfielder who can also pick a pass.’ That will be music to Wenger’s ears…
Pardew is listening to a somewhat different beat, however. Apparently, he’s keen on bringing Aston Villa’s Stephen Ireland to St. James Park. The Irish midfielder is currently on loan at the Toon, but he’s more or less stated that he doesn’t want to return to Villa (or…to be more precise, Gerard Houllier.) In a recent interview, he essentially blamed Houllier for ruining his Aston Villa career and went so far as to suggest that the French manager had deliberately left him out the Villa side.
The situation clearly favours the Geordies, but there is one hitch.Nobody in St. James has seen Ireland kick a ball for Newcastle since he joined the club in January. Whilst this would put off some managers, Pardew has insisted that he thinks Ireland has settled in well.
He told reporters, ‘He’s a really nice guy, he’s fitted in well. He needs our full attention. You can’t let him drift. He needs to know he is important and he could be here. If he doesn’t feel important he doesn’t feel his best.’
It sounds to me like Pardew is taking a slight risk but let’s be fair, Ireland is a good player in the ‘hard-working…grafter’ kind of mould. Similar in style to Joey Barton or Kevin Nolan, he’d certainly fit into a Newcastle side which has achieved much on sheer will, rather than skill!
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